Bhutan to lift mandatory five-day quarantine on Monday



Officials in Thimphu acknowledged that the strict measures caused inconvenience to travellers but were necessary to "protect" the country and communities from COVID-19.


Bhutan will lift the mandatory five-day quarantine for all incoming travellers from July 4 onwards, the Prime Minister's Office of the Royal Government of Bhutan announced on Sunday. Officials in Thimphu acknowledged that the strict measures caused inconvenience to travellers but were necessary to "protect" the country and communities from COVID-19. "Since the transition into Phase II, we have continuously seen a low positivity rate (1.46%) and promising trends of zero fatalities and hospitalisations until date. Therefore, taking into consideration these positive developments, a new arrangement of "Test-and-Go" system (mandatory stay home/hotel quarantine for 24 hours or until negative RT-PCR result is declared) will be instituted effective from July 4, 2022, where the stay home/hotel duration will be strictly monitored," the official announcement declared. Travellers however will have to abide by strict protocols despite the ending of the five-day mandatory quarantine. For example, while entering Bhutan, an RT-PCR test sample will be collected from the visitors and they will have to provide vaccination certificate or "evidence of COVID-19 infection in the six months prior to the visit." Bhutan is gearing up to provide RT-PCR test results within 24 hours but a facility for quick testing is yet to be available in other entry points besides Paro, Phuentsholing, Gelephu and Samdrupjongkar. The government described the latest move as a "significant milestone" in the Himalayan country's fight against the pandemic. Bhutan had introduced a tough 21-day quarantine system that was gradually brought down to a 5-day quarantine, which has now been removed. The quarantine policy has served the "purpose of securing the nation," said the official announcement.